Sony Xperia Z2 camera review
9 Conclusion & Gallery
Conclusion - The Good
- Good exposure and color up to the highest ISO settings
- ISO sensitivity up to 3200 (6400 in Hi-ISO mode) and fast aperture allow for usable results in very low light
- Physical two-position shutter button
- Good build quality, dust- and waterproof
- Efficient HDR-mode
- 4K video
- Efficient digital video stabilization (but not as good as optical systems)
- Good battery life
Conclusion - The Bad
- Noise and pixel-level artifacts across the ISO range
- Strong blurring of fine low-contrast detail from base ISO
- Soft spots in the lens of our sample unit
- No control over exposure in Superior Auto mode
- Camera app lacks structure and does not remember last shooting mode
- Small and low-quality panorama images
- Several special modes only produce 1080p output
- Severe focus pumping in video mode, even in bright light
- Lens location means it's very easy to shade with your finger
From a mobile photography perspective the Sony Xperia Z2 is in many ways very similar to its predecessor, the Xperia Z1, and that's good and bad thing at the same time. The Z2 has the same environmental protection and premium-level build quality as the Z1 and the two-position shutter button give it a real camera-feel when taking pictures.
However, the camera app is not too well structured and some of the special modes produce lower-quality results than the competition in the high-end bracket. Image quality itself has not noticeably improved from the Xperia Z1 and, when viewed at 100%, the 20.7MP output shows a lot of of noise, artifacts and blurring of fine detail which means that shooting at the default 8MP resolution is arguably the better option for most users.
On the upside the Z2 images maintain good exposure and color even in very low light and even pictures taken at extreme ISO settings are still usable for social sharing and web use. Overall, the Z2 is still a good option for Android users but if pixel-level image quality or powerful camera features are a priority there are better alternatives around.
Features & Operation
The Z2 takes over most of the imaging features from its predecessor and the ability to install further shooting modes and apps from the Sony Store means that just trying the camera functions alone can keep you busy for days. However, when having a closer look at some of the special modes it becomes obvious that not all of them are as powerful as those we've seen on some competitors.
Some modes, such as Timeshift Burst and Creative Effects, only capture output at 1080p full-HD video size. Panorama mode, arguably one of the most used special modes (and originally introduced to the camera market by Sony), produces much smaller images than on the Samsung Galaxy S5 or iPhone 5S. The stitching quality is not great either.
In terms of ergonomics the Xperia Z2's big plus is its two-position shutter button that, in combination with the phone's angular shapes, almost makes you feel like using a real camera. However, like on the Z1, the camera app needs to be easier to use. Superior Auto mode works well for point-and-shoot operation but overall the user interface design is not intuitive. For example 4K-video has its own mode instead of being implemented as just another video resolution and HDR mode and the full ISO range are not available at the full 20.7MP resolution which can take a while to get your head around.
In terms of image quality the Xperia Z2 gets a lot of things right. Exposure and white balance are generally reliable and thanks to the combination of an ISO 3200 maximum sensitivity (in 8MP mode) and fast F2.0 aperture the Sony is capable of maintaining good exposure and color in lower light levels than some of the competition.
However, when you start zooming into your images things turn ugly. In its 20.7 MP mode the Sony's images show a lot of noise, blurring of fine detail and artifacts right from base ISO upwards. The lens of our test sample also had several soft spots. Overall, the Xperia Z2 is definitely not recommended for pixel-peepers. That said, chroma noise, chromatic aberrations and moire patterns are all well under control across the ISO range. The pixel-level imperfections become less intrusive in the camera's 8MP mode and given the reduced storage requirements and better choice of shooting modes the latter is arguably the better resolution option for most users of the Xperia Z2.
In both its dedicated 4K and standard video mode the Sony captures smooth footage but constant focus hunting, even in bright light, rendered many of our sample videos pretty much unusable. Hopefully Sony can improve things here with a firmware update, otherwise the Z2 can hardly be recommended to frequent video shooters.
The Final Word
The Xperia Z2 offers high-end specs all around and a nicely made body that offers premium materials and environmental sealing. However, on the imaging front Sony has not made any significant progress from last year's Xperia Z1 and in terms of both image quality and camera features there are currently better alternatives around.
Among the Android competitors the Samsung Galaxy S5 only comes in a plastic shell but offers better pixel-level image quality and more powerful features including panorama images that are multiple times larger than the Sony's. If the Windows Phone operating system is an option for you Nokia's Lumia 1520 and 930 models offer excellent image quality, Raw capture and arguably the best camera app in the business. App availability is still an issue though. The iPhone 5S is getting close to being superceded but is still the obvious choice if you're invested into Apple's mobile OS.
That said, with its physical shutter button, environmental sealing and attractive exterior the Sony Xperia Z2 is still a great option for mobile photographers who are mainly operating in full-auto mode and not too concerned about pixel-level image quality.
DXOMark Image Quality Assessment
The Xperia Z2's images show good detail and comparatively low noise levels in all light conditions. The autofocus is reliable, fast and responsive. The the DxO team found the Z2 to deliver "good overall exposure," "nice colors in all conditions," and a "good overall flash performance."
On the downside the white balance can occasionally struggle outdoors and in mixed-light, flash scenarios. Close-up, the images also show "noticeable fringing, ringing and maze artifacts."
In video mode the Xperia Z2 displayed good overall performance with "decent stabilization, nice textures and low noise levels." However, the AF tends to be a little unstable. Like in stills mode, the video white balance can produce color casts when shooting in daylight. For a more detailed analysis, visit www.dxomark.com.
Sony Xperia Z2
Category: Mobile Phone
Camera and Photo Features
Ergonomics and Handling
Still Image Quality
Speed and Responsiveness
The Sony Xperia Z2 is made from premium-level materials and offers environmental sealing but the default camera app lacks a coherent structure and some imaging features are not as powerful as on competing models. Good exposure and color are maintained even in very low light but at a pixel-level the Sony cannot quite keep up with the best in class. That said, with its physical shutter button and solid build quality the Xperia Z2 is still a good option for mobile photographers who don't need large image sizes and predominantly operate in point-and-shoot mode.
There are 25 images in our Sony Xperia Z2 samples gallery, a mixture of 20.7 and 8MP files. Please do not reproduce any of these images on a website or any newsletter / magazine without prior permission (see our copyright page). We make the originals available for private users to download to their own machines for personal examination or printing (in conjunction with this review), we do so in good faith, please don't abuse it.
Unless otherwise noted images taken with no particular settings at full resolution.
Apr 7, 2014
Jul 20, 2017
Feb 24, 2014
Jul 21, 2017
|Carla... by lickity split|
from Beautiful caucasian female faces
|Lunar New Year Fireworks by Michael L NYC 99|
|Vatican Basilica by wam7|
from Street lights
Canon just unveiled the largest 12-ink printer on the market. The new imagePROGRAF PRO-6000 printer can make prints from 17 all the way up to 60 inches wide.
"Standing in one of the holiest places on earth, I felt uneasy," writes Wired's Jason Parham. "Most of my fellow visitors, I realized with a brief bloom of nausea, were taking selfies."
Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk has been receiving great reviews, but it's a challenge to see it in its full glory. This handy infographic reveals the aspect ratio chaos that is wrought as the industry retreats from film.
Anti-bullying organization Ditch the Label's Annual Bullying Survey 2017 reveals yet again that Instagram, more so than any other social network, has a the worst effect on youth mental health.
It's been a crazy day for innovative patent news. Apparently Sony is thinking of developing a medium format curved sensor camera.
An update to the Silkypix Raw converter fixes some bugs and adds support for several popular new cameras.
This crazy custom-built underwater camera shoots 8x10 large format film. It's supposedly "the first successful underwater 8x10 ever made," and it can be yours for $5,800... plus shipping.
Blackmagic just reveled a new accessory for their Cintel Film Scanner. The Cintel Audio and KeyKode Reader can capture KeyKode data and high-quality audio from film in real-time as it is being scanned.
A new Nikon patent shows a lens designed for a curved full-frame sensor. Could this be the high-end Nikon mirrorless camera people are hoping for?
The ability to shoot images at 1,000 fps first appeared in a Sony smartphone sensor. Now the Japanese manufacturer is using the same feature for industrial applications.
Astronomy expert and photographer Dr. Tyler Nordgren thinks you should "see your first eclipse, photograph your second." But if you do plan on taking photos this August, here are a few tips from someone who's been there.
How confident are you that you can spot a manipulated photo? A recent study at the University of Warwick shows that many people are pretty bad at it.
If you purchased a Leica TL2, do NOT attach Leica's Visoflex electronic viewfinder. Leica is working on a fix, but for now, it's possible the viewfinder will break your camera.
Google just released Motion Stills for Android. Unlike the iOS version, the Android app uses a redesigned video processing pipeline that processes each frame of a video as it is being recorded, creating instant results.
A huge copyright lawsuit between photography firm VHT and Zillow Group is heating up again, as both sides appeal a court ruling that granted VHT $4 million in damages.
European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet spent 6 months on board the International Space Station where he worked with Google capturing spheric panorama images that are now available in Street View.
It's official. PDN has confirmed with parent company Aurelius that 94-year-old lighting company Bowens is indeed going out of business.
The newly launched firmware version 1.06 fixes AF-issues that can occur with some lenses that are not officially compatible with the MC-11 converter.
Voyager is a waterproof smart light stick you can control entirely from your phone. The light has already blown past its $300K funding goal on Indiegogo.
2018 is the last year Photokina will take place during the traditional end-of-September dates. In 2019, Photokina will take place from the 8th to the 11th of May.
The Canon IXUS 50 (known as the SD400 Digital ELPH in North America) was one of a string of high-performing, pocketable PowerShots of the mid-2000s. In this week's throwback Thursday, Barney casts his mind back to 2005.
A close look at the EOS 6D II's Raw files suggest its dynamic range has taken a significant step backwards compared with the company's recent DSLRs. We look at how much difference this might make for your photos.
With a full-production review unit in our hands, we've got over 100 production samples from the new Canon EOS 6D Mark II to share.
Need a break from your day? Kick back and watch the making of a somewhat unconventional mojito filmed on Canon's new EOS 6D Mark II.
The Bonfoton Camera Obscura Room Lens can turn any room into a camera obscura, projecting the view from your window onto the walls of your room.
Adobe just released version 2015.12 of Lightroom CC, adding support for several new cameras and lenses, and baking in several important bug fixes while they were at it.
In this interview, Chiara Marinai, photo editor for VanityFair.com, explains exactly what she looks for in new photographers and photo submissions. Take notes.
Massive corporation P&G is being sued by a Cincinnati photographer for serious copyright violations. If the courts rules against P&G, the company could pay as much as $75 million in damages.
Snapchat's camera-equipped 'Spectacles' aren't so difficult to get anymore. You can now pick up a pair through Amazon for $130.
A group of thieves has made away with tens of thousands in camera gear through a carefully orchestrated scam through Venmo and Facebook Marketplace.